For DFS purposes, there’s nothing better than a full night slate of games, and that’s what we get again tonight. Every single team is in action this evening, with no splits slates or day games to limit our options. The pitching pool is your extremely deep this evening, so let’s put on some arm swimmies and jump in it.
Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings MLB salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each pitcher. To determine the best values in today’s rankings, I run projections that include opponent’s strength, betting situation, handedness, park factor, projected Game Score, power/finesse pitching tendencies along with ground-ball/fly-ball tendencies. We want to take everything into consideration when making our pitcher choices, because they’re the backbone of the lineup. If you have any last-minute questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
Felix Hernandez vs. Minnesota Twins ($11,300)
Felix Hernandez checks all of the major boxes today, making him the clear cut top option despite his hefty price tag. He’s pitching at home, against one of the league’s worst offenses’ that has a propensity to strike out a ton. The Twins .266 wOBA and wRC+ of 65 are both among the worst in the league against right-handed pitching.
Scott Kazmir vs. Houston Astros ($8,500)
There’s a lot to like about this matchup for Scott Kazmir tonight, primarily his price point in relation to the other aces here today. He dazzled the last time he faced these same Astros, going for 27 DraftKings points in just 6 innings of work. The Astros are right about league average in terms of wOBA against left-handers this season, but they whiff at an astonishing 27.1% of their at-bats, and K’s are king here in DFS.
Zack Greinke @ San Diego Padres ($10,100)
One of the top-15 starters in the game, pitching at night in San Diego? We have a winner! Even at $10,100, Greinke offers 30 point upside that makes him a strong pivot from the higher priced Felix Hernandez. For a GPP though, I understand why you’d stay away. Starting pitchers in Petco Park get the same type of attention that’s lauded to hitters in Coors Field.
A lot of season-long fantasy baseball touts, me included, were calling for Pirates starter Gerrit Cole to make the leap to upper-echelon starter this year. Early returns have been positive. So far Cole is striking out 29% of the batters he’s faced, with a 2.36 FIP through his first three starts. I’m never excited about seeking out Paul Goldschmidt at home, but I like this spot for Cole.
Garrett Richards vs. Texas Rangers ($9,500)
I was hoping that we’d have a bit of a price break when Garrett Richards first returned to the rotation after missing the start of the season due to a leg injury he suffered late last season, but that hasn’t been the case. Such is life. I’m willing to pay full retail for Richards, at home in Anaheim against a Rangers team that enters play with the second worst wRC+ against right-handed pitching so far in 2015. Richards lead all starters in ISO-against last season, and had the second lowest hard-hit rate in the game. Stud.
Middle of the Pack
Alex Wood @ Philadelphia Phillies ($8,800)
So far in 2015 we haven’t seen the elite strikeout totals that we saw last season from Alex Wood. Perhaps this is a trend, or maybe the Phillies can cure all that ails the young left-hander. The Phillies have put the ball in play more frequently than I would’ve thought thus far, with a strikeout rate of just 15.9% when facing lefties, but I trust the track record of Wood more than I do the early returns on these Phillies.
Jacob deGrom @ New York Yankees ($9,000)
I don’t advise looking past the pitcher’s setting when making a lineup decision, but fading park factor to choose an elite option who’s pitching in a less the optimal environment can be a strong tournament strategy. Jacob deGrom and his beautiful, flowing locks are off to a strong start in 2015. His 2.45 FIP shows that he’s probably a bit over his skies when looking at his sub 1 ERA, but a 2.45 FIP is still strong. Don’t cross him off just because he’s in Yankee Stadium.
Michael Pineda vs. New York Mets ($7,600)
Don’t cross him off just because he’s in Yankee Stadium. Let’s hope players take a look at Pineda’s 5.00 ERA (through 18 innings!!) and keep moving. Give me a guy who’s got a K-BB% of 24% and a FIP of 2.62. Yes, the Mets are on a roll, but it has to end at some point.
Dallas Keuchel @ Oakland Athletics ($7,500)
I’ll take Scott Kazmir head to head tonight against Dallas Keuchel, but I still like Keuchel in this spot tonight. Oakland is a much more formidable offense when they’re dominantly left-handed, but they won’t be tonight against Keuchel. He hasn’t pitched quite to the level that his 0.90 ERA would indicate (3.00 FIP), but the heavy ground ball tendencies are always work in your favor.
Shane Greene vs. Cleveland Indians ($7,100)
Shane Greene made the leap today, and by that I’m referring to his salary. After being available for between $5,800 and $6,000 for his first three starts, today he’s up above $7,000. He needs to be paired with a high strikeout pitcher; otherwise you’re leaving points on the board at starting pitcher. The Indians are off to a bit of a slow start against right-handers, with a .284 wOBA-against (league average wOBA is .308).
Jon Lester @ Cincinnati Reds ($8,700)
This could be a nice spot for Jon Lester to get going. He’s actually pitched much better than his 6.89 ERA would indicate since his FIP is 2.86 through his first three outings. He’s strike totals are down slightly, but the Reds are heading home after a disappoint outing at the hands of the under-manned Brewers.
Phil Hughes @ Seattle Mariners ($8,000)
Vegas is only calling for 6.5 runs in this one, meaning Hughes is in play here tonight. Hughes is also off to a slow start as far as strikeouts are concerned, but I’m not worried yet. He’s worth a look due to park and price.
R.A. Dickey @ Tampa Bay Rays ($8,200)
Accounting for the knuckleball is always interesting, and Dickey hasn’t done a great job at throwing if for a strike this season. His 15% walk rate is one of the highest in the league so far, but Tampa Bay plays well for the knuckler, because the ball travels so poorly there.
Carlos Martinez is going to be a popular play tonight, and while I like the player, I see too many signs to give me pause. His 100% strand rate is about 30% higher than average, hard to do when your walk rate is nearly 10%. I’m betting on simple regression to a mean here, and it’s an easy fade given my expectancy around his ownership totals.
Danny Salazar @ Detroit Tigers ($7,700)
He is easily one of my favorite pitchers to watch, but boy, is he tilting to own. The upside is off the charts, and he showed a bit of that last time out, recording 10 strikeouts in just six innings of work. If he’s able to keeps his walks down like he did late in 2013, he’s dangerous. He basically either strikes Miguel Cabrera out or gets taken deep for a home run, but this 30 fantasy point upside for less than $8,000.
Josh Collmenter vs. Pittsburgh ($5,400)
The upside of Collmenter is minimal, but he’s a pretty decent arm for just $5,400. Now he’s the opposite of Salazar, because he won’t get you many, if any, strikeouts. The good news is the walks won’t be an issue either. Pittsburgh is swing the bat well, and it’s a good park for runs, but a punt play could look worse tonight.
Jose Quintana vs. Kansas City Royals ($7,000)
The White Sox host the Royals, aka, The Bad Boys of Baseball….what in the world is going on right now? The one thing I do know is that Kansas is hot, and Jose Quintana has been hit around quite a bit so far, to the tune of a .476 BAA last time out. I like Quintana this season, but this is an easy avoid for me tonight.
Matt Garza vs. St. Louis Cardinals ($6,500)
The Cardinals have one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league when facing right-handed pitching, and Matt Garza no longer misses bats. His below average swinging-strike rate (SwStk%) is just 6.0. The Cardinals are going to be aggressive and put the ball in play early and often here today.
Rick Porcello @ Baltimore Orioles($6,300)
Pitching in Baltimore tonight, Porcello is an easy option to cross off. There are just much better options that won’t cost you that much more tonight.
Drew Smyly vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($7,800)
The projections that I run REALLY like Smyly tonight. Take that for what it’s worth. Perhaps I’ll trust them blindly if Smyly dominates Toronto tonight. If he was $1,000 cheaper than I could understand the appeal, but having to pay up for a pitcher who’s facing one of the best power hitting teams in the league, I’m going to pass.
Jordan Zimmermann @ Miami Marlins ($8,300)
Jordan Zimmermann has gotten off to a rough start this season. Unless he gets he gets the velocity back, he’s not going to be able to replicate is improved strikeout rate from last season. I can’t see him coming close to returning value here tonight.
Andrew Cashner vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($8,100)
There could be some tournament appeal to Cashner tonight. His mound opposition, Zack Greinke, will likely be very popular, so going the other way with a decent pitcher like Cashner is smart….if the matchup is better. For me, I won’t do it. The Dodgers have already beat up Cashner for three home runs in just five innings this season.
Rest of the Field
Danny Duffy @ Chicago White Sox ($6,600)
I don’t like the park for Duffy here, and I’d worry about the right-handed power in the middle of the White Sox order.
Mike Leake vs. Chicago Cubs ($6,800)
Mike Leake has done a decent job over his career in keeping right-handed bats in check, he get’s destroyed by lefties. He’s not good enough against right-handers to offset the difference, so go with Rizzo tonight but leave Leake alone.
Mat Latos vs. Washington Nationals ($6,700)
Mat Latos’ salary has dropped quite a bit, but it’s still not low enough for me to consider him. I have a difficult time envisioning him earning the nearly 20 fantasy points that I’d expect from that salary.
Aaron Harang vs. Atlanta Braves ($6,600)
Do you have any idea which team leads the majors in hard-hit rate so far? It’s the Atlanta Braves. The team that most touts, me included, were telling to target all preseason? I’m not sure I’m a full believer, but Harang isn’t the pitcher that I want to bet on to prove me right.
Chris Heston @ Colorado Rockies ($4,900)
Chris Heston has been strong to start the season, but I worry about his breaking stuff in Coors. He’s just not worth it.
Miguel Gonzalez vs. Boston Red Sox ($6,400)
Miguel Gonzalez faced the Red Sox last time out, and came away with a victory. This is more evidence that the win is a terrible stat, and not indicative of any skill or advantage that Gonzalez had over the Red Sox on that day. He enters play with one of the highest walk rates in the league, and the Red Sox will continue to exploit it.
Eddie Butler vs. San Francisco Giants ($4,100)
Eddie Butler has walked more people than he’s struck out this season….